Two women democratic parliamentarians to have denounced a decision by Israel not to let them visit as "an insult to democratic values" – a ban apparently triggered by a tweet of Donald Trump.
In the latest episode of his quarrel with four congressional women of color, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Israel would "show great weakness" when it allowed women to congress Ilhan Muslims. Omar and Rashida Tlaib to visit as part of a private investigation visit later this month. . The other two members of the so-called "Team" the president attacked – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley – should not visit.
The president, who repeatedly said, without providing evidence, that the two women were anti-Semitic, added: "The representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democratic Party and they hate Israel!"
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After Israel made the seemingly unprecedented decision to announce that it was banning both Democrats, they reacted by calling this measure a "scandal".
"It's an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, is refusing entry to US government officials," said Ms. Omar in a statement.
"The Muslim ban on Trump is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected congressmen."
She added: "The irony of the" only democracy "in the Middle East that makes such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a frightening response to the visit of government officials of a country. ally."
Tlaib and Omar, who both criticized the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, were to participate in a private trip organized A Palestinian-led NGO visits Israel and the West Bank, where Ms. Tlaib has family.
Mr Netanyahu, citing women's support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, announced that he would ban women from Congress from entering the country.
"The plan of the two women parliamentarians is only to cause damage to Israel and to foment against it," Netanyahu said in a statement following the decision.
The decision was condemned by a number of Democrats, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who has long had close ties with Israel.
Several Republican politicians opposed this decision, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who strongly criticized the two women members of Congress. He tweeted: "I disagree 100% with representatives Tlaib and Omar about #Israel & am the author of the #AntiBDS bill we passed in the Senate. But denying them entry to # Israel is a mistake. Being stuck is what they really hoped for all along to strengthen their attacks against the Jewish state."
It was also critical by the powerful pro-Israel pressure group AIPAC, which said in a statement: "We disagree with [congresswomen] Omar and Tlaib's support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, as well as Ms. Tlaib's calls for a solution to a state. We also believe that every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally, Israel."
Dylan J. Williams, executive vice president of J Street, a US-Jewish advocacy group, said: "This is unprecedented in the history of US-Israeli relations.
"The fact that dozens of US lawmakers and almost all US-Jewish groups in the country publicly oppose Trump and Netanyahu on this issue shows how serious the crisis triggered by the two men has been. This is a gesture that leaves no doubt about their common anti-democratic impulses and their careless indifference to preserving the bilateral relationship beyond their immediate personal political horizon."
On Twitter, Ms. Tlaib, the first American woman of Palestinian descent elected to Congress, responded by posting a photo of her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank.
"She deserves to live in peace and human dignity. I am who I am because of her," she wrote.
"Israel's decision to ban his daughter, a US congressman, from showing his weakness, because the truth about what is happening to the Palestinians is scary."
Additional report by Negar Mortazavi in Washington DC